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Lost “It” and Beware Old Appliances

My Mojo went missing.

Shortly after the fabo table raising, our weather turned cold with a killing frost so the short sleeved shirts were no longer a priority.

So I went into the kitchen and started a daily regime of cooking. And it was wonderful! My figure doesn’t look “wonderful” but we’ve had some great meals.

And sadly my hair dryer from the late 60’s stopped working very well so I bought a new one. I use 3″ rollers on my curly hair, weekly I sit under the dryer. I was lost.

My old dryer was the Max Hatter Hairdryer by Gillette, purchased for probably $20 way back when. Max Hatter  Hairdryer by Gillette

Someone on Ebay is selling one now for $29.99 starting bid. LOL

Anyway my choices for replacement are limited because of the size of the rollers I use and I bought a Carel Soft Bonnet Ionic Hair Dryer from Sally’s Beauty Supply in town. I used it carefully for 7 weeks and would have to turn the heat down to medium or low to cool off quite frequently. But one day in mid October I fell asleep and when I awoke 1.5 hours later my hair was dry. And I was blistered.

Edited to add: The dryer was set on LOW during the nap!

burn blisters

As the day wore on more blisters appeared in my hair and even where my ear joins mi cabeza. That one is still inflamed and hurts even now.


So, now, 3 weeks later the scabs have finally gone and I don’t think I will have scars.


Sally’s kindly refunded the purchase price even though I had tossed the receipt and I bought a stand dryer which barely fits over the rollers but works. And the heat level is much more controllable. Because I have to sit in a chair to use it I am safer in that I won’t likely fall asleep.

Anyway, I decided to see if I could replace my beloved old hair dryer today because I miss the weekly nap in bed under that old dryer, and guess what I found? A CPSA recall report that it was discontinued in 1974 because the manufacturer had used asbestos insulation. So I’ve been blowing asbestos into my face for years. I’m not feeling too smart at the moment.

OK, I’ll stick with more current appliances!

Anyway, the result of having to deal with 2nd degree burns was that any kind of malady in my body and environment saw me as fresh meat and I had a lot of low energy and viral outbreaks. Obviously I have no immunity to speak of.

So I’ve stayed away from all humans and that means I’ve been house bound. Thank goodness I have a partner in life who can go to the grocery and pharmacy on his way home from work.

Thanks, Honey! I’m hoping to be feeling back up to speed soon.


Journey to Hair

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Folks have commented about my hair since I’ve started blogging about sewing and modeling the garments again. Honestly, it’s kind of difficult to get the focus on the garments when there’s all this wild silver/gray/brown/blondish stuff flying around. Most like it a lot and some have curly hair that kinks out too much in the humidity, too. I hope the story of my journey helps any one who needs it.

Let’s start at the beginning: I had hair, then I lost it and now I’m trying to get it back. Here’s the backstory.

This is me at 40, in 1990. My hair is cut short on top (I had found it hopeless to try to grow it out all one length) and long in back to the middle of my back. I used nothing more than shampoo, conditioner and setting gel (it might have been dippity-do LOL) and then waited 2 or more days for it to dry. It rarely looked this tidy!
Unadulterated Me
As years passed and our business demanded more travel I started having it done weekly as I couldn’t take the time to do it myself and do the traveling our business demanded. It had grown to my waist and was frankly a horrible, bushy nuisance.

I had bad reactions to most hair straighteners and colorants but Aveda didn’t seem to be so bad so I found a good Aveda stylist in town. He colored it, cut it short and pressed it straight so it was less eccentric. That worked for work. He styled me like a screen siren, let me tell you! But by the next week I was looking pretty limp.

But cancer came along in 2007 and half of it fell out. Nobody noticed it much because I had so much of it. I stayed ill and frail for a couple of years after I was declared tumor free. I looked dull and exhausted all the time.
This is Fall 2009
Oct 31 2009
My hair dresser took pity on me and gave me highlights and let it grow longer
January 2010
But I wanted to return to my roots, to put myself back together again and so in March I asked him to take the color out as much as possible, as long as it would not turn orange or yellow. He promised it wouldn’t but in April 2010 I looked like this:
it took 2-3 weeks of bleaching twice a week to get this. This is in May:
1 May 3 2010
it broke off and fell out like I was in chemo all over again! So I just quit going back and did my own weekly hair cutting until I looked like this on Dec 31, 2010
2 Dec 31 2010
By June 2011 I had cut off most of the yellow
3 June 18 2011
The next picture was taken in Dec 2012, 1.5 years later. The chemical yellow was gone and I was washing it weekly with Sulfate-Free shampoo and setting it on rollers so I could handle it easier. Once or twice a month I’d use a blue tint shampoo that is no longer available and you can see the ultra blue in this photo
Dec 8 2012
5 Dec 8 2012
I learned quite a bit about my hair from my salon experience: it’s very delicate, thin and fine but with thick growth, and frizzes completely in the back when I sleep with it down against the pillow. Being in the sun oxidizes it so it breaks off on its own with nothing more than a half day in the sun.
But it seemed to be thinning at a rapid pace and my scalp itched like crazy all the time. I switched shampoos but that didn’t help. My stash of blue tint stuff ran out.

I was losing all my hair AGAIN and in misery with the itching so I stopped rolling it and that really didn’t change anything. I studied all the Plopping Techniques (you’ve heard of Plopping, haven’t you? that cracked me up!) and read all the chat boards about how to handle natural curls. I was getting by but not thriving. Thank the Lord for the burst of products of the market and information on the internet, too. Sure isn’t like the first 45 years of my life!

In Spring 2013 the humidity increased with the warming temperatures and I was beginning to get dreadlocks, with the curls tangling back up the hair length. This is May 2013
6 May 9 2013
and breakage from working out in the sun so little spirals were sticking out all over! I started rolling it again so it was more workable, wrapping it up if I was outside, keeping it in a french twist so it wouldn’t tangle and massaging coconut oil into my scalp. The itching stopped immediately!
These are June 2013
7 June 8 2013
8 June 27 2013
Southern summers are so humid fighting the dreads can take a long time to carefully comb out (wide toothed comb only!) I decided to stop using a comb and do the untangling with my fingers and coconut oil. This braid took the better part of an afternoon to do but it allowed for a good deep conditioning with coconut oil. July 2013
9 July 14 2013
I learned to use the oil, slicking it through the strands of wet hair with my fingers after shampooing and got this result: much calmer hair
10 July 29 2013
For the past month if I feel tangles, I slick up the stands with coconut oil on my hands and gently pull and stroke a small clump of hair until it is smooth and straightened, using my fingers and nails as a gentle comb.
Then I’ll smooth and twist the stands into a curl and move on to the next area. I only use the comb if I am going to try to put it up on my head and only after I have gotten out as many tangles as I can find.
Using this Hands On Method (pun intended) I discovered that the ends in the back were not softening with the oil treatment and I trimmed about an inch off in the areas that seemed rough as best I could. Someday I’ll find a hair dresser that I trust again and go have it professionally evened up. Someday. Not yet.
This was yesterday’s shoot (Aug 22, 2013) and you can see it’s beginning to become a bit wild in the humid wind outdoors
11 Aug 22 2013
So I put it up on top of my head with a thickly covered band (never use a plain rubber band!) for sleeping and today I have given it a careful slicking down with coconut oil, coiling each clump into a curled strand, in prep for washing and rolling tomorrow
13 Aug 23 2013
weather permitting. It’s not worth the time it takes to roll and sit under the hair dryer if it rains like it has for the past week. If it’s still stormy weather I’ll wash it, lightly oil it down with some setting gel added in and let it dry naturally.
The only “problem” with my method is that the coconut oil makes the hair darker, not as silvery, you can see how it is many different colors today
12 2013 Aug 23 side

I tried the Moroccan Oil (Argan oil) but it seemed to give even more of a yellow tint and didn’t seem to absorb in my hair like the coconut oil does.

Hopefully I’ll be able to grow all my hair back, keep the length and survive in a humid climate.

I’ll spare you the rant about what it’s like being the only white girl around with wild curly hair in the segregated South of the 50-60’s and having to be groomed by other whites who had no respect for nor understanding of how to care for curly hair. Nope, I won’t say another word.

But I do love coconuts!

A Year

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Posted by Mary Beth at The Stitchery….

A year ago I spent two weeks of May in the hospital hooked up to chemo drips.

I was at war.

I had already been at war for months trying to survive a killer inside my body. But no one knew.

I had no idea why I couldn’t eat without pain, sleep more than a few hours, handle any emotional upset without excruciating stomach upset or get through the day without feeling like I had just been hit by a truck. I really couldn’t deal at all and yet I kept working more than full time, plugging through.

No one knew: I had a colorectal cancer that had spread to the pelvic lymph nodes. In March 2007 I was diagnosed at stage 3 although the doctors didn’t tell me that until after the treatment was almost over.

I deduce two “treatment” caveats: Don’t divulge “scary” info and kept ’em docile on Meds….

I was kept on painkillers as I went though test after test throughout March and April. I became addicted to the painkillers and had a second round of symtoms almost as unpleasant as the cancer. When I stopped the “Meds” I was given a lecture and more “Meds”. Enough said about that, it was it’s own hell.

Then came the chemical battle.

The first treatment lasted 5 days and 4 nights. My doctor and I were determined to kill off the cancer cells using everything in the arsenal. Chemo kills any fast growing cells anywhere in the body when injected through an IV. To counteract the massive dose of lethal drugs I was simultaneously given a saline drip at maximum rate to match the maximum rate we were injecting the drugs. Lying in bed, unable to focus my eyes or think, I didn’t realize what was happening to me except that I couldn’t function normally (well, duh, I was under major attack!)

When I got home and looked in a full length mirror I realized my legs were huge. The scale reported that I weighed 30 more pounds than when I went into the hospital. 30 pounds in 5 days, that’s definitely not pretty! Having that much weight on my 5′ 2.25″ frame meant many unpleasant things, most of them too private to discuss here. My skin was so stretched it sagged, wrinkly and crepe-like, when the water finally flushed from my body.

The second treatment lasted just as long as the first but this time I insisted my nurse weigh me each day so we could keep the water/saline drip at a reasonable rate. This little adjustment made a huge difference in my comfort and in my recovery since the chemical attacks.

Six weeks of radiation was yet another long lasting hell. Being nuked burns. It worked, so far.

My pneumonia this past month was NOT cancer even though I went through a big scare when the x-rays disclosed an “ovoid mass” in the lungs. Why did they used those particular words??? That was cruel! Unnecessarily cruel.

My skin has not returned to the smoothness I remember or thought I had, but it is much improved and I have lost another 20 pounds slowly over the past 8 months. Skin can’t keep up with rapid weight loss.

I look back at the 65 posts I have written since ~cancer~ became a hardcore reality and I can’t remember why I wrote many of them.

Chemo, in its war against the whole body’s cells, kills off brain cells as well. My memory is shot in places, unexpected places. It’s called “chemo-brain”.

On this Spring’s sales trips I had to ask loyal customers I’ve known and met many times over the past 18 years to tell me their names again, please. I used to shock them by remembering almost all of their orders so they knew something was wrong. I explained myself so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings and many related that they had friends or family who had lost memory after chemo. I was forgiven.

I’ve read that some people report an improvement in memory two years after chemo. Horrible things have happened to me in the the past year and even earlier than that, many things I will never be able to forgive nor forget. I wish I could select the things that fall into the Memory Hole. I’ve heard that others, who have gone through this become angry as a delayed side effect, too.

Almost everything in my closet is custom made by me, for me. Now, every day when I try to get dressed, I am reminded of the past. Everything is too big.

I can’t sew fast enough to erase what memories that I do have.

Maybe I should throw everything out and wear a robe until I have the wardrobe replaced? But then, I’ll still have my body’s wrapping, my very skin, to remind me.

Life is not a pretty dress. Scarlet’s frock-from-curtains has already told that tale. I understand now why a designer or an artist would make purposefully ugly things. I couldn’t wear ugly. It’s not vanity.

I literally need to sew a prettier bank of memories. Skin and Clothes after cancer, they need to fit to be pretty.

I am sewing, slowly, but I am sewing fabric to fit next to skin, a creative tradition belonging to all of humankind, pretty and ugly, and creative, sewn in hope that there will be better memories ahead. I’m just very slow.